Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Unemployment numbers continue to rise amid COVID-19 outbreak

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BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Workforce Commission says last week there were more than 70,000 Louisiana residents who filed for unemployment. The LWC typically takes claims from about 1,400 people a week but as businesses switch to a limited staff or temporarily close their doors, more people need help during the coronavirus outbreak. 

One of those claimants is Abbey Breeden, a restaurant worker in St. Francisville. Like many others, Breeden applied for unemployment on March 17 and since has been waiting for a response.

"I can't get in touch with a person and the one person I did speak with said she couldn't help me," Breeden said.

To keep up with the high volume of claims, the LWC has added computer servers and increased call capacity. Calls are being answered and returned daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"We strongly, strongly encourage everyone to file online," LWC Secretary Ave Dejoie said.

Money is already being directly deposited or sent out in the form of a prepaid debit card. The LWC does not mail checks. But some people, like Breeden, are still waiting.

"I have enough for a little bit, but I'm counting on this," Breeden said.

It wasn't until Tuesday did she learn that, once she submitted her application, her work wasn't complete. The LWC says once a person applies and receives their benefits and eligibility determination their work isn't done. Even though the governor has waived the requirement that involves applicants to continue to look for work, applicants must let the workforce commission know each week that they're still unemployed and not receiving compensation. This is done through online weekly certification.

Claimants must complete their weekly certification and keep completing that certification every week to ensure they'll continue to receive unemployment benefits. The maximum benefit per person is $247 a week. Benefits may be available for people who have seen a reduction in hours, but they must be making less than a specific amount.

There are others in the same boat who are sharing their frustration navigating the process, and the LWC says it's trying to get to every inquiry in a timely manner.

The LWC says it is receiving word from many people who are having issues resetting their passwords. If you are having trouble resetting your password, email hire@lwc.la.gov and include "password reset" in the subject line of that email. To apply for unemployment in Louisiana, click here.

Wednesday, 2 On Your Side was able to connect Breeden with a person at LWC to help her solve her applicant issue.


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